Naming folders and files is not as simple as it seems. First of all, names do matter, and they’re among the hardest things to do as a knowledge worker. And I’m not kidding. As a software developers, naming things is of the utmost importance. It can make or break a system and drastically increase or decrease costs. That is because names convey a ton of information:
So, an incorrect name can cause many woes.
And it’s not only about naming. It’s also about consistency.
By the way, note that many of the recommendations listed here also apply to tag names (e.g., when tagging notes).
What are the characteristics of good names?
Unfortunately, there are no universal rules for naming things. The few things that good names have in common are:
- Clear and simple: the name should convey a clear message and be easily understood
- Concise: without resorting to cryptic acronyms, names should be short whenever possible
- Descriptive: a good name should clearly describe what the folder/file contains
- Distinctive: a good name should stand out and be easy to distinguish from others
- Easy to read: good names should be easy to read
- Easy to write: avoid special characters. Those are often hard to write, especially across countries, cultures, keyboard layouts, applications and operating systems. Stick to letters, numbers and basic characters such as “-” “_” and spaces
- Pronounceable: good names should be easy to pronounce